Updated Classic! 1971 BMW 2002

Fed up with modern cars that perform well while numbing the driving experience with technology, sound-deadening, and other distractions? This shiny orange two-door sedan promises to reconnect you (or connect you for the first time) with the visceral thrills of high-performance driving. The 1971 BMW 2002 in Newbury Park, California wears the popular Colorado orange color, Panasport-style wheels, and other newer parts. The listing here on eBay describes a running engine and functional “lights and gauges,” but no mention of how it drives. At least five bidders have elevated the market value of the iconic “’02” beyond $19,000 with fewer than two days left in the auction.

Flo-fit seats bring a perhaps-unwelcome ’90s vibe to the ’70s interior. Purists may also decry the speakers sprouting from the door panel like mushrooms. Some may say the RPM-loving inline four-cylinder engine produces all the music necessary in a classic BMW. If you don’t know what I mean, or even if you do, enjoy the symphony of this BMW 2002 lapping Germany’s storied Nurburgring. Go ahead; I’ll wait. While described as having a five-speed manual transmission, this BMW almost certainly left the factory with a four-speed gearbox. A close-ratio (no overdrive) “dog leg” five-speed would be prized by collectors, while a later BMW 3-series overdrive five-speed makes a popular adaptation. While a stock 2002 comes fully capable of sustained autobahn-style cruising at 4000+ RPM, overdrive brings a more modern highway cruising experience in the sub-3000 RPM range.

Twin Weber carburetors came in the 1980s, according to the seller, along with a replacement engine block meeting the upper-level “tii” model’s specifications. MSD igntion and a lithium-ion battery mark other visibly obvious deviations from stock. The M10 inline four made 111 HP stock, and gladly explores the upper RPM range. The 2002 only weighs about a ton, and few cars deliver more Smiles Per Gallon.

The Colorado paint looks great and well-applied. The “2002 tii” badging is merely a case of high-school style “optimism” to borrow the seller’s vernacular. Oversized wheels and tires should exceed the stock grip, which the chassis and suspension can easily leverage. I’m currently restoring a Colorado-colored ’72 tii, and mine is a long way from looking this good. I first drove one some 30 years ago and immediately recognized the brilliant blend of ride and handling that still typifies BMW today. A host of modern cars can out-accelerate a typical 2002, but few cars will put a smile on your face as readily. If you think your daily driver is somehow a little “meh,” despite being quick and sure-footed, do yourself a favor and put your butt in one of these. You will not regret it. Would you explore a car’s limits without ABS and traction control?


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  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Great write-up, Todd! I hope you’re documenting the restoration of your tii for an update in a year or so, or whenever it’s ready for the show circuit.

    Like 2
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Thanks Scotty. “or so” being the key phrase there. I certainly will!

      Like 3
  2. Terrry

    May be one of the most perfect cars ever made. Oh, has BMW ever lost its way since.

    Like 10
  3. Gerard Frederick

    One of my favorite BMW´s, the other being the 700 convertible and the 1600 GT, also known as the Glas-BMW. They lost their way needing of either following the general trend of car designs, or being left out in the cold. I´m just glad they didn´t kowtow to the blm insanity like Mercedes did – and still disgracefully does.

    Like 4
  4. Gary

    Beautiful little car

    Like 3
  5. douglas hunt

    Looks like a fun car

    Like 1
  6. Armstrongpsyd Armstrongpsyd Member

    I have to chime in. The write ups on BF are the reason I’m a member. They are always a bit cheeky and humbly erudite. I drive a 1975 02, the model with bumpers that can bump and tail lights you can see at night ;) It never fails to make me feel good about driving. There are lots of fun upgrades, 5 Speed gear box, Bilstein suspension, wheels & tires, and they all make a little difference, but any 02 is a blast to drive on twisty mountain roads and a joy to escape in for a weekend away.

    Like 2
  7. Leslie Martin Member

    Sold for a very reasonable 20.5k. Another nice CA roundie in a desirable color with minimal rust and this time with a sunroof. Devoid of the ugly US spec side markers and with euro style turn signals, the exterior needs nothing. If I bought it, I’d fix and recover the Recaros, sell the dashboard (for $1k easy) and replace the door cards. Then I’d drive the wheels off it, which you can easily do with a 5 speed 2002 with Webers. Whoever bought this got a great little cruiser and a fun car to take to Cars & Coffee events!

    Like 1
  8. JMB#7

    “no longer available”. Any idea what it sold for? Fantastic little cars.

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